- Ergonomic porta filter handle same as the proven design of Rancilio commercial machines
- Commercial grade group head for superb heat stability and extraction quality
- Articulating steam wand offers complete range of motion and professional steaming knob precisely controls steaming pressure
- Classic linear design fits most decors
- Optional pod and capsule adaptor kit available
If Rancilio Silvia was the first espresso machine you mastered, then you’re not alone. It is the entry-level espresso bar for home baristas and commercial cafes.
What makes the Rancilio Silvia so popular is the user-friendly design. It’s simple to operate, and steaming takes no more than half a minute. And it uses a fully articulated steam wand for a more flexible milk frothing.
- 1 Is A Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine What You’re Looking For?
- 2 Similar espresso machines you might like:
- 3 Rancilio Silvia Review:
- 4 Who Should Buy The Rancilio Silvia?
- 5 Who Shouldn’t Buy The Rancilio Silvia?
- 6 FAQs for Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
- 7 The Verdict:
Furthermore, the Rancilio puts all your worries about durability to rest. It has full stainless steel construction and uses a brass heating element.
But one thing takes the spotlight away from Silvia: there is no grinder. While many people couldn’t care less about it, for professional baristas, this can be an issue.
Nevertheless, the question still stands: is the Rancilio Silvia worth it?
We’ve tackled the problem head-on.
Take a look at our review of the Rancilio Silvia, and check out our verdict at the end.
Is A Semi-Automatic Espresso Machine What You’re Looking For?
You may have heard that word often. And many resources tend to put it in quite the confusing terms. So what is a semi-automatic espresso machine? And what other kinds are there?
Strictly speaking, a semi-automatic machine is one where you can control the extraction pump. What this means is that you can control the amount of water let through the portafilter. In this way, you can control the saturation of your espresso shot.
The other type of espresso machine is the super-automatic kind. This type of machine has more programmability and is typically harder to configure. You can set the machine to fill the cups and stop at a certain time automatically.
For most people, especially home baristas, a semi-automatic machine like Rancilio Silvia is the better choice. It’s easier to use, cheaper, and allows for more control over your shot.
Similar espresso machines you might like:
|Features||Rancilio Silvia||Rocket Appartamento||DeLonghi La Specialista|
|Taste||Rich taste, no burning.||Rich taste, no burning, more saturation.||Rich taste, no burning.|
|Brewing capacity||74 single, 37 double.||84 single, 42 double.||67 singles, 34 doubles.|
|User friendliness||Push buttons.||Knobs and pressure gauge.||Push buttons and pressure gauge.|
|Design and materials||Stainless steel, chrome-plated brass, brass.||Stainless steel, chrome-plated brass, copper.||Stainless steel, chrome-plated brass, brass|
|Cleaning and maintenance||Easy to clean and maintain.||Easy to clean and maintain.||Easy to clean and maintain, the grinder needs cleaning too.|
|Frothing||Fully articulated steam wand.||Fully articulated steam and hot water wand.||Fully articulated steam wand.|
|Grinding||No grinder.||No grinder.||Burr grinder.|
|Additional features||58 mm diameter portafilter.||E61 brew group, Cool-Touch technology.||Tamping lever, automatic grinding.|
|Value for money||Meets the value.||Slightly overpriced.||Meets the value.|
Rancilio Silvia Review:
The Rancilio Silvia is a non-PID heat exchanger espresso machine. What this means is that you can’t control the temperature in finer increments, which can cause temperature “swings.”
However, you can attach a PID controller to the Rancilio Silvia. Even in the absence of this, the Silvia can maintain stable temperatures pretty well.
It has to do with the commercial-style brew group used in the machine. With this, the temperature is well-articulated, and the quality of extraction is greatly enhanced. It means that your coffee doesn’t taste like it is burnt, and you get the maximum flavor in each sip.
Extraction quality and overall coffee taste are pretty similar in the Rocket Appartamento. The only difference is that the Appartamento employs a fully redesigned group head. It results in the coffee tasting more saturated and flavorful.
As for the DeLonghi La Specialista, it employs two separate boilers for brewing and steaming. There is minimal heat loss (save for that to the cup warm), and the temperature is stable for the most part.
Just like most espresso machines, the Rancilio Silvia allows you to brew two shots at a time. This makes it a good choice for use in the office, where you only get as much espresso as you need.
The water reservoir included at the back can be removed and has a capacity of 2.188 liters. If your espresso shot is of 1 fluid ounce, this means that you can make up to 74 single shots of espresso. For double shot espresso, the number is lowered to just 37 cups.
At any given time, the brew boiler can hold 0.3 liters. It means that you can only make 10 single shots or 5 double shots at a time. After that, the water will have to boil all over again.
The Rocket Appartamento can hold up to 84.53 ounces of water. That’s about 84 single shots and 42 double shots. It’s a larger capacity, meaning you don’t have to refill the tank as often.
Finally, the DeLonghi La Specialista has the lowest capacity, at just 67 single shots and 34 double shots.
You’ll find that there is great attention to user simplicity in the Rancilio Silvia. Right off the bat you can see just how minimal the design and interface is. Everything is operated from push buttons, and the symbols on these buttons are very straightforward.
The front has a knob for stimulating the steaming wand. And the steam wand itself has fully articulated thanks to the ball joint. What this means is that you can rotate the wand in four directions instead of just two.
The only downside is that there is no pressure gauge, and the steam wand can get pretty hot. You need to hold it from the rubber-padded elbow.
However, when you look at the Rocket Appartamento, you’ll find a more complicated design with more features. It features a pressure gauge along with a separate wand for making Americanos. And the steam wand is insulated and doesn’t cause burns.
The DeLonghi follows a similar trend as the Silvia, except here you get a grinder and a tamping station. You also get a pressure gauge, but no wand for Americanos.
Design and Materials:
The Rancilio Silvia has a rather technical design that consists of highly conductive metals. The external housing is made from stainless steel. That’s a fine product considering it’s waterproof and impact-resistant. And the drip and cup warming trays both follow the same design.
The brew boiler is made from brass, whereas the brew group is made from chrome-plated brass. Brass is a better choice here than steel as it’s more thermally conductive. So you make the most of the wattage you provide to the machine.
You also get a portafilter that’s made from the same material as the brew group. It allows you to extract coffee at the correct temperature.
If you compare that to the Rocket Appartamento, it’s impossible to see a difference. The only difference may be that it uses copper in the brew boiler. Copper is more conductive and is highly antimicrobial.
As for the DeLonghi, it also has a body made from stainless steel, with a brew boiler made from copper. It’s a highly conductive design meant for maximum output.
Cleaning and Maintenance:
It’s not just about using the espresso machine. You need to clean it frequently as well. The Rancilio Silvia makes maintenance a breeze with a smarter backflushing cycle. It comes with a portafilter backflush disc that you can use to catch small debris.
For descaling, you’ll be needing a special descaling agent. But once you get that, the process is quite simple. And it isn’t too different from what we’re generally familiar with.
As for cleaning the components, each part can simply be wiped down using a damp cloth. It’s not recommended to use any sort of detergent. You only need to descale every 3-4 months, but backflushing is recommended after every use.
A similar process is required in the Rocket Appartamento. However, keep in mind that the Appartamento requires 10 backflushing cycles, whereas the Silvia only requires 5.
In La Specialista, you have the additional burden of cleaning the grinder. It’s not necessary to clean out, but it’s recommended every 2-3 weeks. You can use the included cleaning brush or a handheld vacuum to get debris out.
Rancilio Silvia espresso machine is one of the very few that can brew and boil simultaneously. To use the steam wand, you must first purge it for up to 30 seconds. After that, you can steam the milk like you regularly would. It can take up to 30 seconds to properly steam the coffee.
The steam wand can get pretty hot. There is a padded elbow for you to hold it from, but you can very easily forget that and accidentally burn your hand.
However, what does make the Silvia stand out is the fully articulated ball joint steam wand. It means that you can move it in all directions.
The Rocket Appartamento also uses a fully articulated steam wand. Except here you get to see the Cool-Touch technology in action. What this does is that it makes the steam wand cool to the touch.
If you look at DeLonghi’s steam wand, you’ll see that it offers even more features. There’s a dial to convert the steam from foamy to flat. And the steam comes out in no time.
The Rancilio Silvia does not come with a grinder built-in. Had it been included, you would’ve been able to use both coffee grounds and whole coffee beans. The lack of a grinder can be seen as a benefit in some way.
For one thing, you cut down on the vertical height that would’ve been contributed by the bean hopper. Also, there are lesser parts to maintain, and hence lesser parts to worry about.
If you want to use a grinder, we highly suggest buying Rancilio’s original Rocky Doserless Grinder. It’s a handy product, but unless you’re exceptionally good at grinding your coffee, stick to coffee grounds.
Just like the Silvia, the Rocket Appartamento doesn’t come with a grinder either. But perhaps the one thing that sets the DeLonghi apart from the others is that it has a burr grinder.
Aside from those mentioned above, the Rancilio Silvia has loads of unique features. Perhaps a unique feature is the wide diameter of the portafilter. Measuring 58 inches in diameter, the portafilter has been designed to provide a more even saturation.
With that, you also get a three-way solenoid valve. The purpose of this valve is to dry out the coffee, so it doesn’t drip. It’s also responsible for making it easier to knock the coffee out of the portafilter with a knock box.
When you buy the Rancilio Silvia, it comes with a coffee scoop, and a plastic tamper included. You also get the portafilter along with two portafilter baskets.
If you want a glimpse at specialized coffee technology, then take a look at the Rocket Appartamento. This machine uses a reimagined E61 brew group that is oriented towards a more saturated coffee flavor.
Finally, the DeLonghi is the most automated espresso machine. The grinding process will start as soon as you lock the portafilter in. And the tamping process is controlled via a lever at the side.
Value for Money:
Now for the real question: is the Rancilio Silvia worth it? Do the features come close to what you pay for?
The Rancilio Silvia is a mid-to-high range espresso machine. The cost is mostly attributed to the steel construction of the machine. And the lack of controls and options may also be why it’s not as expensive as the other machines.
One thing to note here is that the Silvia uses a brass brew boiler instead of a copper one. It cuts down on the cost, and also reduces standby energy usage.
Finally, we need to consider the fact that this machine doesn’t come with a grinder. When you take all of that into consideration, the Rancilio seems highly valuable for the cost.
Rocket’s Appartamento machine costs a lot and has a more confusing interface. However, it uses a copper brew boiler, providing more even heat distribution.
The La Specialista is priced similar to the Silvia, but it includes a burr grinder. And there’s a quick tamping lever as well.
Who Should Buy The Rancilio Silvia?
The Rancilio Silvia is highly recommended for people who want to start brewing coffee at home. It is considered as the cheapest and simplest espresso machine to use.
The interface is simple, and the versatility is high. You can use it for lattes and espressos and even regular cappuccinos. So it’s best for getting into the art of coffee making.
More so, It is a great product for commercial use as well. If you can pair it with a good grinder, you’ll have a top-class semi-automatic espresso maker. You can also use it in offices and dorms, as it only takes a few minutes to brew the coffee.
And the best part is that you can program a PID controller into it as well. However, doing so is a more technical process, and if you’re new to it, we suggest that you stick to the manual thermostat.
Who Shouldn’t Buy The Rancilio Silvia?
If you’re the type of person who uses whole coffee beans instead of grounds, then this isn’t for you. It doesn’t have a grinder built-in. So you’ll either have to use coffee grounds or buy a separate grinder.
A separate grinder will cost more, and sometimes they don’t even provide much control over the ground type. The Rancilio is also not very efficient in heat transfer, as it uses brass, which is good but certainly not the best.
If you’re a professional barista who prefers monitoring the pressure, the Rancilio won’t suit you either.
FAQs for Rancilio Silvia Espresso Machine
Definitely, but with a steeper learning curve. You see, frothing milk isn’t as easy as it seems. It gets harder and harder with the type of milk used. If you drink non-dairy milk, oat milk lattes are the best. But they require more effort in steaming. If you do master it, you can make the latte in no time.
Yes, you can fit a typical American size coffee mug, as long as it is 3.5 inches in height or lower. Taller cups are harder to fit in. If you prefer drinking in your mug, you can transfer the espresso from the marked shot glasses to your favorite mug.
Descaling and general maintenance of the Rancilio Silvia is a breeze. Well, it’s easy in the sense that it’s not too different from the descaling that you’re familiar with. So it won’t require any extra effort. It’s as simple as with any other espresso machine.
And that concludes the review! We highly hope that this guide helped you better understand Rancilio Silvia.
What sets this machine aside from the rest is the wide diameter of the portafilter. Through this, you get more saturation in aroma and taste. Add that to the minimal interface, and you’re left with a world-class espresso machine!
The only drawback we see here is that the steam wand gets hot pretty soon. And there is no grinder included, which can make it harder for professional baristas to operate.
But you won’t believe it till you see it. So get yourself a Rancilio Silvia and check it out for yourself!